Thursday, March 18, 2010

Leaving Dublin and coming home

It's lovely to get away but it's always so nice to get back home.

Usually the moment I start to pack my mind goes into home mode.

This time I was well aware that I'd literally arrive back in Johannesburg, have about an hour (enough time for a decent cup of tea) at home and then literally have to leave to go to a team workshop, away from home for another two days when all I wanted to do was veg.

Anyway, such is life when you want to save R2 000 per ticket.

This time we were packed and ready to leave for the airport early so that we wouldn't have a repeat of last year and another missed flight!

Quite honestly I don't think I would have coped with any drama being 23 weeks pregnant!

So we left early and made it in good time to check in leisurely and still have a good chat to Craig and Jo before boarding.

As usual, the Dublin-Abu Dhabi leg of the trip was just awful. Packed with screaming, misbehaving kids, no stretching, food not great, etc.

There was ONE great moment.

A little girl a couple of rows in front of us asked her mother for food.
The mother pointed to the food cart waaayyyyy in front of us and said something
like they are serving the food, they'll get to us eventually.

She then says loud enough for our entire section to hear.


I sooo got that girl :)

Our flight from Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg was delayed so in typical D&M fashion, we were taking our own sweet time at the airport when Dion had an urge to go look at the boards.

Sure enough, suddenly our "delayed" flight says "now boarding".

Do you know what we looked like "running" through the airport? "Running" as only a pregnant woman can.

We were the last ones but the stewardesses said they would have waited for us. Hmmm.

Fortunately the aircraft was empty again so could stretch out and sleep.... BLISS.

Landing on South African soil is always bittersweet - sad that another holiday is over but very, very happy to be home amongst our very friendly people.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Visit to Steve, Portia and gorgeous Kai

Sunday 3 May 2009

Craig and Dion were up at the crack of dawn (6.30 and 7:00) and spent some good quality boy time chatting .

I then woke and joined the boy chat.

It was raining so lovely to laze around in pajamas, having tea with good friends.

Aside from Craig, I (Dion) have another friend I know from Repteens living in Dublin: Portia. Repteens is a youth theatre group we attended in Zimbabwe, where we made many great friendships. Portia and her Irish hubby, Steve, both architects, had just given birth to a son, Kai, so we were quite keen to visit them.

Eventually we firmed up plans and set out to go over to Portia and Steve's house to see their newest addition, gorgeous Kai.

Jo decided that she needed alone girl time so the three of us set off.

On our way, we detoured via Penney's (where I bought the babies the softest blue and pink teddies I have ever felt), HMV and then grabbed some SuperMac chicken burgers since it was lunch time.

We met up at their house and for me (D) it was like it always is when meeting old friends: a few more wrinkles on both sides but everyone is still the same in personality.
So it was great catching up with Portia, meeting Steve and getting to cuddle Kai all afternoon! His name is Scandinavian, I believe. This was the first time I’d held a baby so it was quite nerve-wracking. But Kai was kind to me!

BTW, they’ve got a sunroof in their bathroom (trust architects!) so don’t go to GoogleEarth or anything! ;)

Craig with Kai

Steve, Portia and Kai

Gorgeous, tiny Kai - 6 weeks old

Craig, doing the thing he does so well, listening

Dion and Kai

cute baby hands

and cute little feet

Group pic time - Dion, Steve holding Kai, Portia, Marcia

and this time with Craig

Dion's night out at an Irish pub

Saturday 2 May 2009

After lazing around in the evening, eventually C, J & Dion decide to go to a pub to listen to Irish music. Since they only left home at 10 pm, I was simply not up for any more activity and decided to have a sandwich, shower and bed.

The tradition is alive and kicking!

I wanted that traditional experience of the vibe of an authentic Irish pub in Ireland: the music, the singalongs, the camaraderie. I don’t drink alcohol so I was a little apprehensive about how this would turn out. After all, in South Africa, there’s no such thing as going to a pub if you’re not drinking; it would be like going to a steakhouse for the salad (which Marcia does, BTW!)

So I put in my request with my friendly neighbourhood travel guide, aka my friend Craig. He’d heard about a good place on the opposite bank of the River Liffey to the pubs and restaurants of the more well-known Temple Bar district. We went looking for the place. It was around 10pm, nearly my bedtime, so this was an adventure for me. Living recklessly, on the edge.

Craig parked in Dublin and, like a bloodhound on the trail, led us (Jo and me – Marcia tiredly stayed home) through a few streets straight to it: a little corner pub. And it was just like you picture it. Cosy, packed full of people, chatting and laughing, their cheeks all a little red from the Guinness and other drinks! We squeezed through the throng, down the narrow section between the long bar and the little tables and chairs. Space was at a premium. After a few minutes, a couple left their barstools and we slid in to replace them. The Cokes started flowing. And I dived right into two packets of peanuts (as we hadn’t had supper yet!) I’d been hoping for a ‘pub lunch’ meal but this pub didn’t serve food.

The roaring in my stomach was soon forgotten, though, when the music started. Again, it was just how you’d imagine it: your toes start tapping as those Irish violins, pipes and drums energetically filled the place. Only four musicians created this full sound from their demarcated seating area near the front of the pub. We listened for hours and hours – it’s just that sort of music. Jo’s friend joined us and we all chatted away to the soundtrack of authentic Irish music.

This is something you just have to do in life.

Beautiful (expensive) streets

Saturday 2 May 2009

We were supposed to go to Howth today but Jo had gone with a friend the day before so obviously that was pointless.

So D and I were having breakfast when Craig woke up and said, "let's go out for breakfast".

As a pregnant lady with a mad appetite, I continued to eat and finished my breakfast, not knowing how long it would be and I didn't want to feel sick from not eating.

D decided to only have half his portion to tide him over.

We all went by car to St Patrick's hospital (Craig's work), left the car and took a bus into the city.

Then got out to walk.

Hectic - trying to keep up with normal healthy people while hugely pregnant.

After much wandering about, C & J finally decided to stop at a nightclub for PIES (for breakfast at nearly 1 pm). The pies eventually arrived after nearly an hour. BTW, they were 11 euro each.

Well, about 15 minutes later I'm hungry again so I was left at the Metro Cafe for scrambled eggs (okay, not great) while C & J went to buy a sheet at Penney's and D went to HMV on Grafton Street to look for a John Barry compilation CD (who on earth is John Barry?!) and the Once soundtrack.

They all met me back at the Metro Cafe for muffins and coffee and then we all went home to rest.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beautiful Dublin skies

Friday 1 May 2009 (Worker's Day in South Africa)

We did our usual lazy morning, sleeping-in thing.

Eventually got ourselves dressed, fed and got the bus into the city centre.

For some reason we didn't have the correct change but the Dublin bus drivers are unforgiving - they do NOT accept anything less (on some weird level you have to appreciate the NO COMPROMISE attitude).

Instead of kicking us off the bus, he told us (in front of the ENTIRE silent bus) to ask one of the passengers for change.

What can you do but obey?

Can you picture an exasperated, heavily pregnant lady saying to the lil old ladies? "do any of you have change for 5 euro?"

Fortunately a lovely lady right near the front had change for us.

It's those moments that make me appreciate South Africa so much.

Anyway, departed the bus at the usual spot in front of Abbey Court and did a book crawl.

Bookworm, Easons and then Penney's.

The River Liffey

Then lunch - bagel with chicken and cheese for D and chicken burger for me

I happened to have a conversation with a pregnant lady in Tesco who told me there was a maternity shop on Talbot Street.

Rubbish... or else it was so hidden even two highly visual people couldn't find it.

We walked and walked and walked.... and still nothing.

Eventually at 3:30 we did our Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour but poor D, I was so exhausted that I couldn't even get on and off so we just went round looking through the bus windows.

Saw Trinity College, St Patrick's Cathedral, Christchurch Cathedral, the Guinness Factory and Phoenix Park.

When we boarded the bus to get us back home, who do you think was driving it?

Yes = same bus driver as in the morning!

Rested at home for a while and eventually after much to and fro, decided to have supper at Eddie Rockets, an American-style diner, with Craig and Jo. We had burgers, fries and shakes which in true Dublin style set us back to the tune of......... R500!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wicklow Tour - part two

Inland we passed a burial site that Germany actually owns! Apparently during WW2, some German pilots lost their way in trying to bomb London (now that's really going off course) so the Irish, being friendly hosts, gave them some ground to bury their dead.

You can see acres and acres of turf or peat collecting, which is basically cakes of mud they cut from the ground and use for fuel. Amazing.

We passed Loch Tay, which is apparently part of the Guiness Estate. These Guiness people own a lot round these parts.

This is the famous part of Wicklow, Sally Gap, where P.S. I love you was filmed. I literally gasped when I saw this breathtaking view for the first time.

This sight never fails to amaze me - WOW - I don't think any pics do it justice

Absolutely magnificent and ICE cold wind in the cheeks

not looking too great but I didn't give a hoot

I wasn't paying too much attention to the tour guide at this point - churches, cemeteries and such simply are not my thing :)

This is the little bridge I crossed going back to the hotel for tea while Dion went to see the lakes.

There actually should be a part 3 as Dion did the last section of the tour by himself. I was knackered and elected to have a nice cup of tea at a nearby hotel while the fitter members on the tour hiked an extra 30 minutes to see some lakes.

A beautiful tour. We got back in the evening and ate late (for us): 10pm. Risotto & chicken. Mmm. No hard and fast plans tomorrow - but, of course, one thing leads to another...

Tour to Wicklow - Dun Laogharie leg

Thursday 30 April 2009
Wild Wicklow

Ok, so Marcia insisted we tour Wicklow by coach - even though we successfully self-drove through it the previous year. Hmmph.

Got a lift to Heuston (?) station with Craig and took the LUAS into the City Centre as the tour left from a hotel whose name escapes me at the moment.

The Irish boys are not as South African, well-behaved boys are - it's strictly each man for himself even though there's a HUGELY pregnant woman on the tram. Grrr. Not impressed.

STOOD all the way and then had to run/ walk fast to the departure point all the while thinking, "was this a bad idea to do this tour? I am pregnant, after all."

Just about made it in time and off we set.

Our guide was Kevin Murray, who shared wonderful anecdotes as we rode towards the coast and headed south.

We passed Blackrock Boys College - now, doesn't that sound like the perfect training ground for Irish bad boys? Well, actually it's quite a larney place, with a price tag of some 30 000 Euros for a year's education, 50 000 for boarders.

Drove on Merrion Road where the houses go for some 30m Euros. Sounds like a status tour but anyway, we'd soon get to the rocks and waves and stuff. We learned that Bono (u2 lead singer) started out somewhere around here as a petrol pump attendant.

We also passed St. Vincent's Hospital where apparently 50% of the nurses are Philippinos, for some reason.

Finally we reached the coast and got out to stretch legs and take some landscapes and self-portraits:

hmmm, gorgeous grey skies
Marcia says the photo's terrible so I have to take it again (this kind of thing goes on all the time thru out trips - I'm sure we could see double the sights if we didn't spend so much time redoing photos):

Marcia in her element, grey Irish skies above, cold nipping at her nose, colourful Dublin doors on the sea-facing houses: